Creatives shy away from their about pages and mission statements for the same reason engaged couples often put off writing their wedding vows: It’s daunting to start writing something so deeply personal and, most likely, not something that will come out right on the first try. Fortunately, unlike marriage vows, a brand mission statement isn’t just a one-time declaration but rather a narrative that can evolve. You get to continue to refine as you grow.
No matter what field you’re in, people want to know who you are, what you care about, and why they should work with or learn from you. A brand mission statement offers potential clients or students a glimpse at your core values, as well as your commitment to your craft. A well-defined manifesto can even serve as your true north. This becomes the foundation for your website, content, and offerings, which everything else—including that tricky about page—branches out from.
The mission ahead
If we’re looking at the 5 Ws (+ 1 H) of website design or copywriting, your mission statement is your why. It’s the heart of your business. It answers the big questions like:
- Why do you do what you do? And why does your business exist?
- What are your core values and what do you truly care about?
- What are the pillars of your business, brand, or teaching philosophy?
- Who are you serving? Can you pinpoint your impact?
- What do you enjoy most about what you do?
- If you could distill your purpose down to as few words as possible, what would they be?
Your about page, on the other hand, tells site visitors who you are and how you’re qualified to bring your mission to life. Often, creatives tend to either say too much here (perhaps believing they have to justify or oversell themselves, thanks to negativity bias). Conversely, they’re too modest and don’t say enough. Fortunately, once you hone in on your why, it’s much easier to discern what to share about who you are.
Reflect on your journey
Creatives dare to walk the road less traveled, a path that involves the fear of uncertainty, putting yourself out there, etc. What brought you to that point? There must have been some defining moments that caused you to choose the wilderness of creativity and entrepreneurship. Within those pivotal crossroads lie some clues of what your core values are. While you’re there reflecting, think about your brand’s origin story, how it’s evolved, and your vision for the future.
Note what inspires you—and what doesn’t
Whether you’ve already given these statements some thought or this is the first time you’re thinking about them, it can be helpful to pay attention to what brands and creators you admire and how they approach their brand mission statements. Do a little research on brands in similar fields, as well as companies you encounter on a regular basis. Whose values do you align with? What resonates?
Equally important, what doesn’t? Where are their core values lacking? Pay attention when you feel an aversion or judgment arise. Feeling judgmental doesn’t feel good, but it can quickly point us in the direction of our values by showing us what they are not. For instance, if you notice a brand cite sustainability as one of its core values, yet notice that many of its services or products aren’t so ethical, you might come to realize that environmental-consciousness and transparency are two of your core values. While it can be easy to get stuck in judgment, especially in today’s world of cancel culture, allow judgment to fuel your mission, rather than shame others.
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Get outside perspective
Ask trusted colleagues, peers, clients, or students what they love about working with you. Find out what they think you bring to the table and what they believe your core values are, simply from interacting with you. It might feel a little uncomfortable at first. However, allow yourself to be seen and see what they mirror back to you. Besides, reaching out might lead to valuable quotes or material for testimonials. If you feel comfortable, you can ask for their honest feedback on your drafted about page and mission statement. And of course, you should use testimonials on your course sales page.
Get outside, in general
You might also call on the counsel of a clear mind for guidance. Give yourself some space, away from your busy work week, deadlines, emails, and everyday routine, to relieve the pressure of the task at hand. That might look like going on a walk in nature, spending some time outdoors, or sitting in meditation. Take intentional time to focus on your business, away from your business. Be sure to have a notebook handy to jot down whatever ideas come to you, no matter how insignificant they seem. Pay attention to any recurring themes.
Understandably, sharing your heart with someone via wedding vows or sharing the heart of your business with the world can be terrifying. Know that what you have to offer is not going to be right for everyone, so you can release any self-imposed expectations of having to please or appeal to everyone. The more you align with your core values, the easier you’ll attract your ideal clients and students and write a brand mission statement that’s true to you.